Just in time for the holidays! Christiana Care Health System’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is providing new shoes, socks and foot exams for free to nearly 100 people — many of them homeless — on Tuesday, Dec. 1, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Sunday Breakfast Mission, a homeless shelter in Wilmington. The event is part of a campaign by a national organization known as Our Hearts to Your Soles, whose mission is to provide indigent people with shoes and free foot examinations.
Soles4Souls and Red Wing Shoes will donate a total of 100 pairs of new shoes through the organization, and Independence Prosthetics-Orthotics, Inc. will donate nearly two dozen pairs of specialty shoes for people with advanced diabetic foot needs. In addition, the nonprofit Dignity U Wear will donate 200 pairs of socks to homeless people during the event.
Paul Kupcha, M.D., section chief of Foot and Ankle Surgery at Christiana Care and an orthopaedic surgeon, is the local coordinator for the event. Dr. Kupcha said that foot health provides a clue to a person’s overall health. Joint stiffness, for example, can indicate arthritis; tingling and numbness can be connected to diabetes; swelling can indicate high blood pressure or diseases of the heart and kidneys.
Brian Galinat, M.D., MBA, chair of Christiana Care’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Christiana Care orthopaedic surgeon Robert Steele, M.D., also will provide free exams to homeless people during the event. Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists will set up the event and staff it with volunteers.
“By providing our neighbors who are homeless with shoes, we help them get more physical activity and help protect them from frostbite,” said Dr. Kupcha, who has volunteered with Our Hearts to Your Soles for eight years. “We also examine the feet of each individual and care for them if they suffer from chronic foot-related problems.”
Hypertension, respiratory illness and foot problems are the three most common health issues that the homeless face, says Rev. Tom Laymon, executive director of the Sunday Breakfast Mission.
“People who are homeless largely have to walk everywhere they go which means that their feet are taking a greater beating than the rest of us,” Laymon said. “The ability for them to get shoes that fit and see a doctor is incredibly meaningful to them. Like putting new tires on a car, you’re retreading them in a lot of ways by giving them shoes and foot care.”